Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Tear Jar Legend

The Legend of the Tear Jar

In the dry climate of ancient Greece, water was prized above all. Giving up water from one's own body, when crying tears for the dead, was considered a sacrifice. They caught their precious tears in tiny pitchers or "tear jars." The tears became holy water and could be used to sprinkle on doorways to keep out evil, or cool the brow of a sick child
The tear jars were kept unpainted until the owner had experienced the death of a parent, sibling, child or spouse. After that, the grieving person decorated the tear jar with intricate designs, and examples of these can still be seen throughout modem Greece.
Legends of tear bottles, or lachrymatories, also abound in stories of Egypt and middle eastern societies. In ancient Roman times, mourners filled small glass vials with tears and placed them in tombs as symbols of love & respect. In the Old Testament of the Bible, the notion of collecting tears in a bottle appears in Psalm 56:8.
In the Victorian era, a tear bottle was one of the greatest gifts you could give someone. It meant that you loved them, that you shared a grief which brought you together.
This ancient custom symbolizes the transformation that takes place in people who have grieved deeply. They are not threatened by the grief of people in pain. They have been in the depths of pain themselves, and returned. Like the tear jar, they can now be with others who grieve and catch their tears.

~Linda May and Pleasant Gill White~

Tear bottles were common in the first few centuries AD. Small tear shaped bottles were placed as a tribute at the base of a tomb. Sometimes professional mourners were hired to supplement the bereaved family’s tears and extra compensation was paid to those who cried the most and were loudest! Tear bottles reappeared in the 19th century and are strongly associated with Queen Victoria. Some women used tear jars in the customary way, crying into them after the death of a loved one whilst others used them to cry into after their loved one left for the Civil War. A tear bottle known also known as a tear vial, tear catcher or lachrymatory are very collectable items nowadays. This one is from St Pancras and Islington cemetery in London.


Holly said...

I love the idea of tear jars

Anonymous said...

The traditional Turkish Tear Jar is the most amazing blue and has a fluted lip to facilitate the actual gathering of the tears.
Beautiful post! :)

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